New York City parents seek revote on canceled contract for Gifted & Talented entrance exam

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Hundreds of New York City parents are urging the city to hold a revote on a canceled contract that would allow students to take the Gifted and Talented program’s entrance exam this year, according to a letter crafted by a pro-specialized testing parent group, PLACE NYC. 

Last month, the mayor and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza announced that the test would be administered for the last time this April as the city rethinks the program in a broader effort to help diversify New York City public schools which are some of the most segregated in the country. 

“The Gifted and Talented test is the definition of a high stakes test, a single test that determines so much,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said last month. “This approach to testing is not something I believe in, it’s not something the chancellor believes in and it has caused a lot of frustration for so many families… we need a much better approach to serving kids with a lot of capacity.”

Days after the announcement,  the Panel for Educational Policy voted to deny a proposed contract extension with Pearson, an education publishing company that creates the test, essentially stopping Mayor Bill de Blasio from making good on a promise to allow 4-year-olds to sit for the test one last time this spring before phasing out the program. 

The letter requests that de Blasio and Department of Education officials schedule the revote during the education panel’s next meeting on February 24 to ensure that the test is administered to this year’s students as promised to do. A day after the PEP vote, de Blasio assured parents again that their children would be allowed to apply for the program this year. Officials though are still figuring out how exactly to do that.

“You will have an opportunity to apply for those programs, we’ll work on the right methodology and we’ll announce it soon,” de Blasio said during a morning press conference, pushing back against PEP vote. “Families can hear directly from me, yes you will be applying for the opportunity for your kids to be in the gifted and talented program and we’ll get an update to folks soon.”

PLACE NYC supports officials’ plans to rethink admission criteria for Gifted and Talented programs in order to expand access to low-income immigrant, Black, and Latino children. “However, the decision to remove the Pearson test with no alternative is short-sighted and potentially leaves families with no options for gifted programming,” the letter says. 

“We are concerned that the short window of time that an alternative admissions policy can be adopted will lead the DOE no choice but to implement an open lottery policy; this will effectively end district and citywide G&T programs.”

PLACE NYC claims that over 30,000 families have been “anxiously waiting” to take the test and apply for city specialized programs. 

“We can then work in good faith with the DOE and families to come up with a solution that genuinely meets the needs of all accelerated learners,” the letter reads. 

City Hall did not respond to a request from amNew York Metro for comment on the letter.